Lao Schoolgirl abandons cycling for weightlifting

Posted by samakomlao Sunday, May 17, 2009

The national women's weightlifting team is training hard at facilities at Phonesavanh Secondary School as they eye a medal at the 25th SEA Games in December.

The team has been living in the school's dormitory since last month, and is being trained by Thai coaches. This will be the first time Laos has sent a women's team to the SEA Games, but the competitors are going all out to make a spectacular debut.

The best weightlifter in the 67kg category, Manylath Phommavongsa, 17, is keen to win a medal for Laos . She is a fifth-year student at Chanthabouly Secondary School .

But Ms Manylath is young and lacks experience at the national and international level.

This is the first time she and her teammates have undergone a rigorous training course, but they are determined to do their best. She said she enjoyed the training because she is taught by three expert coaches from Thailand , who teach her many useful basic techniques.

She began training just over a month ago, while her friends started training four months ago. She's not scared and doesn't suffer any injuries during training.

Ms Manylath said she and her friends had good food in the dormitory after training, with sessions held every day from Monday to Saturday.

Most youngsters don't like weight training because they say it does not give them a beautiful body, but Ms Manylath enjoys the training, saying it gives her a strong body and is good for her health.

At the eighth National Games in Champassak province last December, she won a silver medal in the women's team cycling event.

She represented Vientiane at events which helped her to prepare for the cycling race at the National Games.

But she didn't have her own bicycle or training equipment, so she stopped training with the cycling team.

She shifted her allegiance to weightlifting when one of her relatives, Mr Chanthone Phommavongsa, suggested the idea last month.

She said the move was a good choice because the Lao Weightlifting Federation has training equipment and good coaches, and she believes she can do better in this sport than in cycling at the SEA Games.

The federation is seeking more than 800 million kip to buy more equipment and pay for training and facilities.

Twenty male weightlifters, five substitutes and seven female weightlifters are now training at Phonesavanh Secondary School .

The federation will test the contestants' fitness and health before they compete at the games.

The LWF plans to send the team to train in Thailand from September to December and will select the best weightlifters to attend an international event in Chiang Mai. The team will also compete in the Weightlifting Championships in Si Sa Ket province in Thailand in July.

The team will resume training at the school after returning from Thailand . In October, they will return to Thailand when all Lao weightlifters will attend the Thai Championships.

Weightlifting events at the SEA Games will consist of eight categories for men - 56, 62, 69, 77, 85, 94, 105 and over 105 kg - and 48, 53, 58, 63, 69, 75, 77 and over 85 kg categories for women.

This year's 25th SEA Games will be the first in which weightlifting has been included.

By Sangkhomsay Bubphanouvong

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